Lookout Santa Cruz seeks experienced, talented and versatile reporters ready and able to produce local news storytelling in a community hungry for it. We seek correspondents who are enthused about being part of a new model of community-centric, mobile-first, topically knowledgeable, intensely local journalism in Santa Cruz County.
This person will aim to meet readers’ needs in multiple ways, from quick, useful, information hits to in-depth reporting, providing actionable service journalism for Lookout’s readers, smartly and creatively using multiple engagement channels to connect with audiences.
We look for journalists who are enthused to cover the topics, trends, characters and delightfully quirky attributes that make each community unique.
Lookout Local’s correspondents are the prominent public face of Lookout in all the diverse communities it serves. They bring the news, information, and community goings-on — the day-to-day authoritative and readable reporting — to readers. And they are recognizable, their faces on Lookout and in the community.
These jobs, as detailed below, call for a full range of time-tested and digital skills. We encourage you to contact us if you see the opportunity in what Lookout has already created in its first half year, and see how you and your work can build on it.
Our correspondent beat structure is flexible, and we seek candidates whose abilities and interests include one or more of the following areas:
- Affordability & Equity: No other topic affects every person in Santa Cruz County like this one does — and unique people stories are at its core.
- Education (K-12 & higher ed) + Family Life: Post-pandemic learning and its aftereffects, from the widening equity gap between public & private schools to teacher shortages & university housing controversies to an increased awareness of mental health challenges and social/emotional learning.
- Health, Wellness, & Recreation: From public health to proactive individual and family well-being, covering the most personal of topics with insight and utility.
- Public watchdog: Accountability coverage of government institutions, politics and policy with an emphasis on the people behind the decisions and the context behind how and why those decisions get made.
- Farm/Ocean-to-Table: Food coverage, in the widest sense, beginning by helping people understand how our robust agribusiness economy intersects with other people-oriented topics: those who pick/catch the food, those who sell the food via CSAs and farmers markets and how it ends up in refrigerators and on fancy restaurant plates countywide.
The story forms:
Lookout firmly believes that only certain stories require the traditional narrative “story” treatment — especially in the digital era. And those are the important ones with critical human voices and touch points. The vast majority of stories are more consumable — particularly on mobile (where Lookout derives 70% of its traffic) — in other forms. Such as:
- Explainers/101s: Here’s what you need to know about X and why
- Q&As: This person’s voice is important enough that it stands on its own
- FAQs: Great for explaining how things affect people or in situations where people are confused and want answers
- By the numbers: Building a narrative surrounding the major numbers that stand out in a story.
- Fact Check: People are buzzing about something; we ferret out some truth for them.
Beyond the reporting & storytelling:
An essential part of putting readers — not government officials or the government process — first is to speak in a language Santa Cruzans understand, whether through content on LookoutSantaCruz.com; beat-structured email newsletters; posts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media platforms; and through direct interactions via video and audio chats or texting sessions. Social listening — knowing what people are interested in knowing about or talking about, via Facebook, Nextdoor, Twitter & Reddit — is a major part of the mission.
Lookout’s state of the art website enables correspondents to offer up not only “What to Know,” in shorter and longer form but also “What to Do,” how people can partake in their community in myriad ways. Whenever possible, stories include “take action” boxes or jumping off points that allow readers to go deeper, whether it’s how to make a public comment or read original documents.
Correspondents actively participate — on Lookout’s behalf — across social media channels for engagement, awareness and two-way-relationship building with readers. They are also expected to interact with community members in a variety of settings, including forums, Q&A sessions (online, via text and in-person) and special Lookout events that bring light and engagement to an important issue.
They also are highly engaged in public records acquisitions, participating in Lookout’s Access Democracy open meeting/open records/accountability journalism training and work, in association with our partner, the First Amendment Coalition.
For Lookout, diversity and communities of color are always top of mind, as are the socioeconomic realities of South County and the traditional geographic divide.
Experience & skills:
- Rock-solid journalism judgment, intuition and taste.
- Experience and comfort with the pace of digital-first journalism, and the digital technologies that power it.
- Ability to engage diverse local communities in Lookout’s work
- Ability to think through visuals that will aid storytelling and work with colleagues to activate them.
- Demonstrated adaptability, especially with new topical coverage areas and communities.
- Comfort learning new technology and experience working in content management systems, producing, editing and dressing stories with related media (photos, videos, etc).
- Comfort with the format of Lookout’s correspondent-focused model, and the personality it brings to the work.
- Desire to work in an entrepreneurial, fast-growth startup environment, embracing the agility and flexibility required to thrive within a new business.
- Bilingual abilities are a plus.
- Data reporting skills are a plus.
- Audio/video experience is a plus.
Benefits and Application
Correspondents are full-time Lookout Local employees. We offer competitive employee benefits with Lookout’s for-profit, public benefit company.
Lookout Local is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability or veteran status.
Job Type: Full-time
Salary: Commensurate with experience.
Please apply, with cover letter, resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.